Ikorodu torn between investors’ delight, cultural inhibitions
Lagos State is no stranger to many citizens of the world. While Nigeria stands tall as the most populous black country on earth, Lagos remains the economic hub of Nigeria 27 years after Abuja replaced it as the country’s capital.
If Lagos were a country, its economy stands as the seventh largest in Africa – bigger than Cote d’Ivoire and Kenya, two of the continent’s most promising economies.While its boisterous cities of Ikeja, Apapa, Ikoyi, Victoria Island and the new Lagos, Ibeju-Lekki, which fall under the Ikeja and Lagos Island districts, grab all the headlines, the three remaining districts of Badagry, Epe and Ikorodu, are trailing behind in the shadows of the Centre of Excellence.
Many Lagosians refer to Ikorodu city as not being a part of Lagos, especially due to its lack of bubbly sensation and geographical extreme location. The question is where is Ikorodu situated? Ikorodu occupies the north-east zone of Lagos, along the Lagos lagoon sharing a defined boundary with Ogun State. Based on the last census conducted in 2006, the population of Ikorodu was 535,619. There are two major districts: Ikorodu Rural District, which has 57 towns and Irepodun District, comprising 66 towns.
Compared to other cities in Lagos, Ikorodu is notable for its slow adaptive nature to developments and tremendous investments. Although the way of living common to the indigenes can best be described as complacency even in the face of acute changes from various counterparts, nonetheless, Ikorodu has been referred to as the fastest rising city in terms of her population and this is majorly because of the abundance and affordability of landed property and the influx of citizens in search of low-income budget for their housing needs.
With the ballooning population, it is not far-fetched why investors see Ikorodu as a strategic vantage city to boost their market. Currently the Ikorodu economy is mainly driven by trade, farming and manufacturing. These are projected via a subsistence lifestyle.Residents, most especially indigenes, are notable for operating small-scale businesses on a retail sale system, more like merchandise to ease the stress of passersby on the street from having to go far into the markets, selling everyday produce gotten from farms within or nearby suppliers. This is in spite of a few booming markets like Mile 12 market, Sabo market and Ikorodu garage markets.
The city is, however, bogged down by cultural inhibitions leading to crisis of insecurity and social instability. On May 8, this year, the annual Oro festival in Ikorodu paralysed social and economic activities and restricted movement of women in spite of the assurance given by the police and the traditional institution on free movement.Women in the town kept off the streets while banks and other businesses shut down, with no vehicular and human movements in major sections such as Aga, Ojubode and motor parks. Known as Magbo festival in the town, the Oro Day is an annual celebration practised across the Southern Western states. Only men who are natives of the community are allowed to participate in the festival.
During the festival, Oro makes itself known by a whirring, roaring sound, which can be heard in the neighbourhood. This whirring sound is done by his wife, Majowu. It is said that Oro is clothed in a robe with shells and wears a white wooden mask with blood smeared on the lips. It passes alongside its followers. Its followers announce their presence by chanting incantations in loud voices.
Up until the recent success of the Lagos State police command to nip the Badoo menace in the bud, it was for nearly two years a major scare for residents. The dreaded Badoo cult gang during their reign of terror had caused a lot of havoc, sending countless whole families to their untimely graves.The gang, according to security reports, not only rape their female victims, but kill them in the most dreadful way by using stones and pestles to batter the victims head and going away with the brain and blood matter. In some instances, they were also said to slice open pregnant women and made away with the foetus of the unborn baby.
A resident, Rasheed Adedeji Fatuga, who traced the origin of the dreaded gang, said it started like child’s play in July 2016. “It was in July 16, 2016 when the notorious Badoo gang first started their nefarious activities in Ibeshe area of Ikorodu. Thankfully, we are no more experiencing their deadly attacks two years after, though they still struck earlier this year.
“These cultists were a bunch of faceless terror group committing outrageous crimes in Ikorodu. What they do is to visit families living in a building that isn’t fully completed or guarded by a fence. They then use bricks and grinding mortar to hit their victims on the head, wipe their blood with a cloth and leave the scene like that.”The sad harrowing experiences are now giving way to some welcome development. One of which is the siting of new ultra-modern furniture in the area named ‘Home and You’, which Lagos State governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, described as a key driver for the economy of the state and the country at large.
Ambode, while delivering a goodwill message at the factory commissioning ceremony last week, said it would create employment and increase the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). “This is the first furniture company of its kind in the Ikorodu axis and it’s a clear indication that the efforts of state government to provide security and infrastructure is beginning to yield positive fruits”, he said.Ambode, represented by the Commissioner for Environment and Physical Planning, Prince Rotimi Ogunleye, said the industrial made-in-Nigeria furniture produced by Home and You will compete very well with foreign products of their kind.
Representative of the financiers of the project, Executive Director of Bank of Industry, Mr. Waheed Olagunju, at the occasion, said the bank had supported the furniture company for about 13 years. “What’s being commissioned today is an expansion.”Meanwhile, Mrs. Feyisola Abiru, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Home and You, said passion and undying crave for success have been the reason she was able to whether the storms in the early days of the 21 years old business. “But for the support from BOI, we won’t be here today. They gave us the first facility in 2006 to get us running. We acquired world-class machines from Italy. And when we needed to improve on our quality and expand the capacity of the business, we approached them again for another facility, which was granted in 2017”.
This is just as the state government has addressed the transportation challenge in the community. Before 2013, Ikorodu suffered a major setback in her transportation network, residents found it difficult to commute due to bad roads and dilapidated vehicles used for commercial purposes. The major bad roads became a huge turn off for investors; many feared that even if they established certain malls, big hospitals, recreational parks etc. it will only amount to bad sales because no one will love to journey their way through bad roads just to access a luxury they can easily penetrate in other cities of Lagos.
Raining seasons were the most dreaded, not only the inner-city roads got flooded, but even the major ones. The coming of LAMATA Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in 2013 has been a huge relief. The roads were properly constructed to soothe all road users both private, commercial and the BRT. Special inference segregated lanes were constructed to assure a fast and reliable bus travel for the BRT.
Residents now enjoy at an affordable cost easy convenience without having to worry about being stuck in traffic. Every major bus-stop has a convenient terminal built for commuters; this is one key factor that has helped to reduce the rate of accidents on the busy Ikorodu highway.Also, the effective usage of the Ikorodu waterways is gradually giving road transportation a run for its money, especially having been a much more realistic alternative other than the frustrating traffic. The ferry terminals located in Bayeku, Ebute, Ijede and Majidun are now being put into effective usage. It is easier to get to the island in Ajah, Lekki, or Victoria Island or come from there within 30 minutes as opposed to almost two to three hours on the road considering the intense traffic.
There are a lot of unlimited possibilities that can be harnessed in Ikorodu. Its underdeveloped yet rising state is a buoyant venture for investors both local and international to embrace. Investors must correct the wrong impressions they have about Ikorodu as being impregnable due to the city’s resistance to change. Already, residents of the Ikorodu area are irked over the plan to relocate the Ikorodu Local Government Area secretariat to a rented office apartment to build a shopping mall on the vacated land. Chairman of Ikorodu LGA, Wasiu Adeshina, said the secretariat was underutilised, adding that its relocation had been concluded.
“The capability of the local government cannot maintain the present structure that we have here. So, if development is coming to Ikorodu, I think we need to support it. It is true that the secretariat is proposed to be used as Shoprite (mall), and for Shoprite itself to come to Ikorodu, there are many economic gains we are going to derive. The project is going to bring employment opportunities to our numerous youths and my proposition is that Ikorodu indigenes should be considered first. We are not selling out the land; the C-of-O of the land is written in the name of Ikorodu LGA. It means that there is a lease agreement between investors and the council.”
There are a lot of environmental amenities lacking in Ikorodu such as well equipped schools, white collar jobs, big industries, highbrow hospitals, malls, cinemas, resort and many more. Investors should henceforth see Ikorodu as a stepping-stone that it is. There is no perfect way to begin than to begin these great investments already. There is no better time to reap the abundance of rich benefits Ikorodu has in stock.